I debated whether or not to even reveal these stories as they seem quite tame in comparison to a lot of the heavy stuff quite a few of my friends encounter when it comes to mental health, like Quitter…
I am grateful that my only real dance with mental health came around age 22.
It began with my very first, long distance flight that I had to take for work. I was exhausted, starving, and generally just not in the right head space to fly. Within 1 hour of the flight, a minor panic attack began to take over when I really started to feel unwell. I thought the whole plane was staring at me, I started to sweat profusely. I begged the flight attendant to move me to the back, to avoid everyone’s sight line, I hoped. On a full flight, the attendant politely told me she couldn’t. She offered me a ginger ale and some Gravol and suggested I sleep. I instead went to the washroom and vomited, then I managed to sleep.
That week was horrendous as I feared once again getting on that plane. At the time, I still didn’t really know what was going on but I knew the idea of a flight was terrifying. I felt dizzy all week long and when I wasn’t busy with work, I was busy with worry. I don’t remember how I made it home on that flight without incident but I do know I packed a whack load of distractions.
I thought for sure that I had simply developed a fear of flying, until it progressed into so much of my life. I was terrified to subway to work. I would feel panicky if I had to attend long meetings. I once had to excuse myself from my hair dresser (in the midst of a dye and cut) multiple times so I could sneak to the bathroom and breathe deeply.
I don’t remember how I managed to do this but I self-diagnosed myself as dealing with agoraphobia: an anxiety disorder where you fear and avoid places or situations that make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
I also don’t remember if I was open to my boyfriend about it but I do know I spoke to my parents. My Dad confessed to having dealt with something similar and gave me some tools. I also did a ton of reading on the subject and practiced a ton of coping mechanisms. This was also close to the time that I really got into yoga.
I am grateful that to date this was the worst I had to deal with but even this small moment seems worth talking about. If it allows those struggling with the big to feel confident, less stigmatized, then it’s worth taking up the minuscule space.